Food poisoning Guide
Causes, Incidence, And Risk Factors
Food poisoning tends to occur at picnics, school cafeterias, and large social functions. In these cases, food may be left out of the refrigerator too long or food preparation techniques may not be clean. Food poisoning often occurs from eating undercooked meats, dairy products, or food containing mayonnaise (like coleslaw or potato salad) that have sat out of the refrigerator too long.
Food poisoning can be caused by:
- Bacillus cereus
- E. coli enteritis
- Fish poisoning
- Mushroom poisoning
- Staphylococcus aureus
Infants and elderly people have the greatest risk for food poisoning. You are also at higher risk if:
- You have a serious medical condition, such as kidney disease or diabetes
- You have a weakened immune system
- You travel outside of the U.S. to areas where there is more exposure to organisms that cause food poisoning
Possible symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Diarrhea (may be bloody)
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness (may be serious and lead to respiratory arrest, as in the case of botulism)
Signs And Tests
Tests to find the cause may be done on your:
- Leftover food
In rare but possibly serious cases, your health care provider may order one or more of the following procedures:
- A thin, tube-like tool placed in the anus to look for the source of bleeding or infection (sigmoidoscopy)
- A test to measure electric impulses in the muscles (electromyography) to check for botulism
- A test of fluid from the spine (lumbar puncture) if you have signs of a nervous system disorder
- Don't eat solid foods until the diarrhea has passed, and avoid dairy products, which can worsen diarrhea (due to a temporary state of lactose intolerance).
- Drink any fluid (except milk or caffeinated beverages) to replace fluids lost by diarrhea and vomiting.
- Give children an electrolyte sold in drugstores.
If you take diuretics, you need to manage diarrhea carefully. Talk to your health care provider -- you may need to stop taking the diuretic while you have the diarrhea. NEVER stop or change medications without talking to your health care provider and getting specific instructions.
For the most common causes of food poisoning, your doctor would NOT prescribe antibiotics.
If you have eaten toxins from mushrooms or shellfish, you will need medical attention right away. The emergency room doctor will take steps to empty out your stomach and remove the toxin.
Less common but much more serious complications include:
- Arthritis (Yersinia and Salmonella)
- Bleeding disorders (E. coli and others)
- Death (from mushrooms, certain fish poisonings, or botulism)
- Kidney problems (Shigella, E. coli)
- Nervous system disorders (Botulism, Campylobacter)
- Pericarditis (Salmonella)
- Respiratory distress, including the need for support on a breathing machine (botulism)
Calling Your Health Care Provider
- Diarrhea lasts for more than 2 - 3 days.
- There is blood in your stools.
- You are on diuretics and have diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
- You have diarrhea and are unable to drink fluids due to nausea or vomiting.
- You have a fever over 101°F.
- Bleeding is excessive or your stools are maroon or black.
- You are short of breath or having trouble breathing.
- You have any nervous system symptoms such as weakness, double vision, difficulty speaking, or paralysis.
- You have signs of dehydration (thirsty, dizzy, light-headed, faint).
- You have trouble swallowing.
- You may have poisoning from mushrooms, fish, or botulism.
- Your heart is racing, pounding, or skipping.
- Carefully wash your hands and clean dishes and utensils.
- Use a thermometer when cooking. Cook beef to at least 160°F, poultry to at least 180°F, and fish to at least 140°F.
- DO NOT place cooked meat or fish back onto the same plate or container that held the raw meat, unless the container has been completely washed.
- Promptly refrigerate any food you will not be eating. Keep the refrigerator set to around 40°F and your freezer at or below 0°F. DO NOT eat meat, poultry, or fish that has been refrigerated uncooked for longer than 1 to 2 days.
- DO NOT use outdated foods, packaged food with a broken seal, or cans that are bulging or have a dent.
- DO NOT use foods that have an unusual odor or a spoiled taste.
- If you take care of young children, wash your hands often and dispose of diapers carefully so that bacteria can't spread to other surfaces or people.
- If you make canned food at home, be sure to follow proper canning techniques to prevent botulism.
- DO NOT feed honey to children under 1 year of age.
- DO NOT eat wild mushrooms.
- When traveling where contamination is more likely, eat only hot, freshly cooked food. Drink water only if it's been boiled. DO NOT eat raw vegetables or unpeeled fruit.
- DO NOT eat shellfish that has been exposed to red tides.
- If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, DO NOT eat soft cheeses, especially imported from countries outside the U.S.
Credit to : righthealth.com
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